By Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post
A GROUP of Chinese warplanes flew into the Taiwan Strait and briefly approached Taiwan, just hours after a US transport plane passed over the island today (June 9).
Taiwan scrambled its warplanes to warn off the People’s Liberation Army fighter jets which crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait this morning, the island’s defence ministry said in a statement.
“The military detected multiple numbers of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets flying southwest into Taiwan briefly this morning,” it said, adding the air force immediately scrambled jets to shadow, intercept and disperse them through radio warnings.
“The military has full surveillance and control of all activities in the sea and air that surround Taiwan, and the public can rest assured of our capability to uphold security for our national territory.”
The incursion came just several hours after a US C-40A transport plane made a rare flight into Taiwan over the southwest coast early in the morning.
The US plane took off from the US airbase in Okinawa, flying over Taiwan’s Keelung, New Taipei, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi, Tainan and into the Taiwan Strait towards the Bashi Channel, according to AirNav, which provides air traffic control information.
Taiwanese military spokesman Shih Shun-wen confirmed that the US plane had flown across Taiwan. “The military has full control of the activities around Taiwan and the present condition is normal,” Shih said.
In a separate statement, the ministry said the plane did not land on Taiwan, dismissing some local news media speculations that the US plane was on a special mission.
The fly-bys come at a time when the PLA is stepping up drills aimed at the self-ruled Taiwan. Last Wednesday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that the PLA 73rd Group Army had conducted live-fire and landing drills, showing amphibious tanks storming beaches in a coordinated attack under rough sea conditions.
On May 14, the PLA started a two-and-a-half month exercise at Jingtang in the northern province of Hebei, which observers interpreted as a piece of sabre-rattling aimed at Taiwan and the US.
Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be returned to the mainland fold by force if necessary and has tried in vain to force President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party to accept the one-China principle.
It has also warned Washington against supplying arms for Taiwan and is infuriated by the firm support for the island from the administration of US President Donald Trump.
Also today, Taiwan announced that the island’s annual Han Kuang war games would start on July 13.
“The drills will involve the three forces and will be held in the sea, air and Taiwan proper as well as its offshore islands for five days and four nights between July 13 and July 17,” Major General Lin Wen-huang said in Taipei.
Lin said a live-fire anti-landing drill would be held in Taichung on the west coast of the island on July 16 and would be open to the media.
The annual Wan An air raid drills will take place two days earlier across Taiwan, to test Taiwan’s combat strength and preparedness against missile strikes.
Top: Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30LL flying along the runway at Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport extremely close to the ground piloted by Anatoly Kvochur.
Insert: A Russian Air Force Su-30SM. Photos: Wikiwand
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